Schalke have claimed the prized signing of Sidney Sam from Bayer Leverkusen. The German international winger's bargain release clause was met by Schalke, and he will join his new club in time for the 2014/15 season.
Sam, 25, will move to Gelsenkirchen on a four-year deal, fresh from what is likely to be his best season yet. His seven goals from 12 league games has helped propel Leverkusen to second in the table, while he has also played a key role in his club's progression to the last 16 of this year's lucrative Champions League.
With a cut-price 2.5-million-euro ($3.4-million) release clause in the five-year deal he signed with Leverkusen in 2010, Sam had been offered new terms to stay at the BayerArena. But he rejected the club's final offer on Monday, paving the way for his move to Schalke at the end of the current campaign.
"We are delighted that he has decided in favour of the Royal Blues," Schalke sports director Horst Heldt said. "Sidney Sam has shown with strong performances not only in this season how much he can boost an attack ... He is very ambitious and wants to achieve a lot with Schalke."
Leverkusen business manager Michael Reschke had said on Monday the club did not "want to go any higher" on their bid to retain Sam: "We have to accept it when he can earn more at another club. He deserves that following his fine performances," Reschke said.
A Hamburg youth team product, Sam began to show his talent while on loan with Kaiserslautern during the 2008/09 and 2009/10 seasons in Germany's second division.
He began well at Leverkusen before struggling somewhat with consistency and injuries. That seemed to be behind him in 2013, with his form leading to an international debut in Germany's friend against Ecuador in May.
Sam now has five caps to his name, and can hold genuine hopes of a place in Germany's squad at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. He featured off the bench in his country's last match - a 1-0 friendly win over England at Wembley in November.
Sam's impending capture continues a positive start to the January transfer window for Schalke and their head coach Jens Keller, who have already secured the 18-month loan signing of promising defensive utility Jan Kirchhoff from Bayern Munich. Kirchhoff's arrival could be a replacement for United States international Jermaine Jones, who appears set to depart the club.